Tikka Masala

postheadericon Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala “Tikka” means bit or chunks.  I learned to make this delicious Tikka Masala dish from one of my roommates in college.  It means grilled or broiled chicken pieces served in a spicy, creamy sauce.  Although I ate Chinese food almost every day growing up, I had never tried Indian food until I was a sophomore at Boston University. I couldn’t believe how complex all of the spices were and how the heat was so sublimely tempered by the cooling yogurt in the marinade.   I know Tikka Masala may seem complicated at first but it really isn’t hard at all.   You just have to plan ahead because the key is marinating the chicken at least 2 hours or up to overnight for the best results.  From there, you broil the chicken and then saute the sauce ingredients.  Although it takes a couple more steps than other styles of Asian cooking, it is so totally worth it.  The saffron rice is elegantly hued and fragrant and also very easy to make.  You can get the adorable elephant dish pictured here and all of the spices you need including garam masala in the gourmet section at Cost Plus World Market.

Chicken Tikka Masala


  • Marinade:
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thigh
  • salt and pepper
  • Saffron Rice:
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered saffron
  • 2 cups boiling water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice, not rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • One 14.5 ounce can whole peeped tomatoes, finely chopped with juices reserved
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup thawed frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro


  1. Combine all of the marinate ingredients in a large glass bowl.
  2. Make a few shallow cuts in each chicken thigh with a sharp knife. Place the chicken thigh in a large sealable plastic storage bag. Pour marinade over the chicken. Place in the refrigerator fro 2 hours or up to overnight.
  3. Pre-heat broiler. Scrape as much marinade as possible off of the chicken thighs. Season with salt and pepper. Broil for 12 minutes, turning once or twice, until just cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  4. While chicken is broiling, make the rice: Steep the saffron in 1/2 cup boiling water. In a skillet that can be tightly covered, melt the butter over medium high heat. Stir in the rice and salt. Cook, stirring constantly until the rice absorbs the butter and becomes opaque. Be careful not to brown the rice. Quickly pour in the remaining 1 1/2 cups water along with the saffron water. Cover immediately, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside covered.
  5. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add butter and swirl until it melts. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and saute until onion is translucent, about 1 minute. Add the garam masala, chili powder and cayenne pepper and saute for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices and stir until combined. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened. Add the cream and peas. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in reserved chicken and let simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper ot taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve immediately over the saffron rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala

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Welcome to The Sweet
and Sour Chronicles!

Hi! I’m Katie Chin, an Asian food expert, cookbook author, tv host and food blogger. I'm also a mom, so I know what it takes to get dinner on the table in a busy household. I specialize in everyday Asian recipes for real people on real schedules and real budgets. more

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